Review: Broad Ripple Music Festival 2012 

Broad Ripple Music Fest I (Slideshow)
Broad Ripple Music Fest I (Slideshow) Broad Ripple Music Fest I (Slideshow) Broad Ripple Music Fest I (Slideshow) Broad Ripple Music Fest I (Slideshow) Broad Ripple Music Fest I (Slideshow) Broad Ripple Music Fest I (Slideshow) Broad Ripple Music Fest I (Slideshow) Broad Ripple Music Fest I (Slideshow)

Broad Ripple Music Fest I (Slideshow)

One of our favorite festivals came back for another year in the Village. This year, the ultra-walkable Indy fest brought cellist Ben Sollee and DJ Colette as headliners with a pack of notable locals to the stages, tents and bars.

By Bryan Moore

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Various Artists

Broad Ripple Music Fest

Saturday, Oct. 13

(Editor's note: This event is too big for one reviewer to handle, so we sent two! Read Rachel Hanley's take here.)

This year's Broad Ripple Music Fest showcased respect for tradition while daring to try new things. Living up to its reputation for exposing new local artists, the festival's schedule was populated with exciting up-and-comers as well as many cherished favorites.

This year's focus was placed on keeping the festival's multiple venues within walking distance of each other, confined to the actual Broad Ripple village. Offsite parking at Glendale mall and a shuttle service to and from the village was provided, though I suspect this was an unnecessary amenity judging from attendance levels. Afternoon showcases were sparsely attended; none were totally empty, nor were they ever packed. It wasn't until the sun set that the festival kicked into full swing.

No Direction played for an attentive group of listeners at the all-ages Girls Rock! Showcase located inside of Indy CD & Vinyl. With just over a year of experience together (they met and formed at the 2011 Girl Rock! Camp) the young punk rockers played like old veterans. Vocalist-guitarist Daisy Shull and guitarist Dana Dobbins displayed the strongest stage presence and most confident playing, although everyone on stage seemed to be having a good time. Despite songs filled with mostly innocent lyrical content (cartoons, sipping on Pepsi), the fresh band solidified their punk rock status with a bold closing song during which Shull repeatedly shouted "I made out with your sister! It was fun, but I'm positive I'm straight!" Rock on, girlfriend.

At 7 p.m., showcase kicked off at Peppers with Swig, the sexy stoner-rock band that Indianapolis has been missing. Falling somewhere between dark, heavy rock and burlesque-style jazz, Swig offers easy listening jams that move. Formed from the ashes of various Indianapolis bands (God Made Robots, The Crimson Cult, Treigh, etc), Swig labels their sound as "retro indie blues," but their deep grooves and sultry, impassioned vocals create a sound that far exceed such a generic labeling.

Just after 8 p.m., the massive EDM tent assembled in the Kilroy's parking lot was going to waste. Chicago-born and LA-based DJ Colette was the evening's electronic headliner, though you wouldn't have known it to peek inside for her set. A few enthusiastic fans donned flashing glow toys and danced with fervor, while the rest lightly bobbed their heads in time with the music. Although a steady influx of people began to flow in around 8:30, the space never came close to capacity. Later, for the midnight "surprise set" at Mediterra (formerly Midtown), Colette made a brief appearance to lay down live vocals, but the legendary DJ's performance was once again marred by low attendance.

The highlight of the 2012 Broad Ripple Music Fest was unquestionably Ben Sollee's headlining show at Connor's Pub on the festival's main stage. With a late start and an early shut-down, the set was less than an hour in duration but packed nonetheless from front to back. Sollee and his band had performed earlier in the day at the Vice Presidential Debate in Danville, KY then traveled to Indianapolis for their 9 p.m. set. Always a professional and conscious performer, Sollee thanked anyone in the audience who might have donated to his recently crowd-sourced album and later encouraged fans to consider biking and walking to shows as he and his band attempt to do for a third of their shows annually.

At 10 p.m., the Indianapolis Police Department rolled into Connor's parking lot to enforce the noise ordinance. Festival organizers kept them at bay for 20 minutes before finally pulling the plug on, bar none, the best performance of the festival. Maintaining his respectable and sensible demeanor, Sollee answered an unhappy crowd by moving into the center of the tent with his backing guitarist to close with a moving acoustic version of "Built For This." After the lengthy, energetic applause subsided, Sollee left the stage with a final comment: Let it be known that a cello closed down Broad Ripple Music Fest!

(Editor's note: Since the review's publication, we've been informed that Sollee's set went exactly as scheduled, and that remaining acts moved inside Connor's to perform.)

Ben Sollee performs "Built for This" at BRMF 2012

Late night notable sets included DMA's well-attended, brief mad scientist performance at The Alley Cat and the ever popular Heavy Gun Beat Battle at The Casba. DMA (a.k.a. David "Moose" Adamson a.k.a. the mastermind behind now-defunct, low-fi wizard group Jookabox) presented a medley of bizarre chants, whoops and groans that somehow melded together to become mysteriously enchanting music.

Another wildly successful Heavy Gun Beat Battle begs the question why it's not become a standalone event of its own. Undoubtedly the most attended showcase of BRMF, the long list of literally underground performances was brief, energetic and wildly entertaining. The ultimate goal of the Beat Battle - to crown one local producer as the best beat-maker in all of the land - was achieved when Blake Allee was announced the champion of this year's contest.

The Broad Ripple Music Fest, at its very core, is an opportunity for the casual music listener to get out of the house and celebrate local talent. The festival, despite its many faults in 2012, remains true to its ultimate mission. What it lacked in promotional muscle and attendance, it made up for by shining light on the best in local talent (re: No Direction, Swig, DMA, Blake Allee). As one of my favorite and most-cherished annual local events, I hope that BRMF continues to grow, develop, and continue its tradition of supporting local music and giving credit where credit is due to the best of the best in local music.

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